Tuesday, 30 July 2013


Far, far away, in the humble happenings of Gippsland, there is a pleasant escape from the rocky terrain and arduous tracks that can be found in the MTB crazed town of Bendigo. This place is an oasis, where the single-track is magic and the trees and trails speak to one another, and they all combine in sunshine every year to bring us the Blores Hill 6hr. I grew up just 20kms from Heyfield where the fourth round of the Victorian Enduro Series took place, and I feel a little ripped that these tracks existed in my backyard all along and I never had a thought to take-over the dirt. So injuries aside, with my Trek Superfly 100 Pro SL (dually) in tow to relieve any back symptoms, I apprehensively committed to race.

Chris, Ruby (with her V-plates) and I ready to race

I decided that it would be best to team up as a mixed threesome, with Chris Hamilton looking for some fast laps leading into the XC World Championships, and bringing on board Ruby-Marie Greig-Hurtig for her first ever MTB race…woop! We made the epic drive down on Friday for the Saturday feature race, with hospitality compliments of Mum. As per usual the track was in mint condition with the majority consisting of smooth single-track that naturally ebbs and flows as you weave through the trees and sail through the berms. A short bit of fire-trail in the middle leads into the technical ‘Trig’. This part is quite rocky and finishes up a sharp climb before a swish A-line shoots you off down the descent, cascading down the hill with berms and whoops to satisfy the downhiller in all of us!

Nick Morgan and John Groves had a close fought victory in the Men's Pairs

We allowed Chris to start under the condition that if he wasn’t leading, that we weren’t tag-teaming with him. But he didn’t disappoint and I found myself ripping off jackets as he swooped into transition in the lead. I took off cautiously but was still eager to post a good time (you can take away my form but I will forever be competitive). With a clear track I was able to ease back into this MTB ‘thing’ without pressure. Despite my time away, the track was so natural and my bike so effortless that I felt I was just along for the scenery. And with my favourite Rubena Scylla’s carrying me along I felt even more at home.

An interesting tyre choice by the 'fat-tyre-flyer'!

As I had hoped, I rode through the day-3hrs in fact-completely pain free (lungs and legs aside)! It was a relief; I even thought it a miracle. I was on such a high that after the completion of my first lap I rode with Ruby to talk her through the race. But being the fighter that she is she didn’t need my help, in fact she dropped me lol The race day flew. I cheered for the local fun loving, dirt-hugging guys that I grew up with, the city dwellers along for some fresh air, and of course eventual solo winners and close friends Tory Thomas and Peter Kutschera. I snacked on $2 toasties, broke into the lunch of solo riders Shaun Cattanach and Darren Spiteri, and just enjoyed the MTB atmosphere-thanks to Tim and Ray for the company.

Ray and Tim supporting partners Kath O'Shea (2nd solo female)
and Tory Thomas (1st solo female)

When the 5.5hr marked ticked over and Chris came in for our final change, Ruby and I were relaxing in our chairs, fully clothed as per usual, and after some scrambling we were off again. To our surprise, Chis met us up at ‘The Trig’ and the three of us sailed down the hill in sync, chatting away and enjoying the trails. This moment really set the tone of my relationship with MTB’ing-fun, fitness and friends…until I snapped my chain! Luckily Chris had a link and we allowed Ruby to go ahead to finish the lap.

Myself, Chris and Ruby with our awesome trophies
hand-made from old resurrected bike parts - thanks Glen!

We finished second in the mixed and all came home with super cool trophies, although I did have to give Ruby the one that spun…devoed! Now I’m suffering from ‘post-race social-depression’ as I like to call it. It’s a common disease that affects 78% of MTB’ers and even road riders (yes, you people do have something in common) after an awesome day out such as Blores Hill. If you’ve ever suffered from it, put your hand up…now put it down, you look weird sitting at your computer with your hand up! 

Thursday, 25 July 2013


For those of you that weren't aware, on Monday 5th May I was at work. Now usually I wouldn't complain about this because most of you were probably in the same boat, but on this particular day I was in a fair bit of pain. My back was sore for what I believed was the aftermath of a 6hr MTB Race I had completed on the weekend, and I was grateful to finish work that day and go home to rest it. The following morning I found myself resting again, before and after work, and by the end of the week, when I hadn't touched the bike, I realised that this back pain was different. Sometimes it spasmed, other times it was a sharp stab, but most importantly it lingered. Not only for the day, but for a whole week.

With all this spare time I can even fit in some Media!
Thanks to Kath Bicknell from Flow MTB Magazine for a beautiful 4-pg spread

If you are an avid reader of my blog, you will know that I then attended an AIS study camp in Canberra, and then raced at the Tour of Adelaide. I missed many a session throughout the camp and this recovery allowed me to race the Tour of Adelaide pain-free. But upon my return home, or more importantly my return to work, the pain just kept getting worse to the point where 10-days off the bike has become norm.

This was a pretty big feat for me!
This is the first mention I have made of my back, and for good reason. I thought that if I didn't speak of it, then it wouldn't be real. But it is very much real. It's now been eleven weeks since my back first played up, and my god the time has gone slow. I managed three rides last week and plan to race this weekend in a triple team for the Blores Hill 6hr near my home town of Traralgon. I also started back at work this week after a two week break to recover and believe that I am nearing the end of my treatments.

To help my back, Jarrod has built me some stairs lol
Three months may not seem like a big deal, but it meant that my plans to go overseas were put to a halt, and that my early season base for 2014 has all but gone. Most importantly it means that I have put on 8kg that will be mighty hard to lose! In my time away I have had a chance to 'help' - some call it watch - Jarrod make some advancements on our home reno's and also make some big plans for next season and all I can say is world watch out!

Such first world problems...I'll soldier on and update you all again soon :)